New York Travel Guide, USA Travel Magazine

View Current New York Features - About Us | Advertising | Editorial Calendar | Mobile Home Mobile Site MapSearch |   Updates  | USATM Home  |  Weather  

View Site Map

Touring New York State's Orange County, By Merle Exit

New York State's Orange County is a great choice for a travel destination. Three particular Hot Spots are: Gomez Mill House; Brotherhood Winery; and the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame    

My tour of New York's Orange County took me to various locales, accommodations and restaurants. First I would love to share what I felt are the "hot spot attractions."  

The Mill House, located just off 9W, five miles north of Newburgh, NY, on the Hudson River, is not only the oldest house on the National Register of Historic Places in Orange County and the earliest surviving Jewish residence in North America, it has been continuously inhabited for more than 280 years.  

Site of an ancient Indian ceremonial ground; frontier trading post; earliest extant Jewish residence in North America; center of patriot activity in the American Revolution; home of writers and artists and men of affairs, it symbolizes Orange County´s regional and national history.  
 
In 1714 Luis Moses Gomez, who had fled from the Spanish inquisition, purchased 6,000 acres of land along the Hudson Highlands where several Indian trails converged. Here he built a fieldstone block house into the side of a hill and by a stream that became known as "Jews Creek." 
 
The great walls of the house, about three feet thick, still stand today. Native Americans came to hold ceremonial rites at their campground at the Duyfil´s Danskammer, aka Devil Dance Chamber, on the shores of the Hudson on Gomez´s property. Luis Gomez and his sons conducted a thriving fur trade from the house for about 30 years and Luis Moses Gomez became the first parnas (president) when the synagogue of New York´s Spanish and Portuguese congregation was built. Among the family connections were poetess Emma Lazarus and Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo.  
 
Future ownership followed with: Wolfert Acker, a Revolutionary War Patriot, who bought Mill House in 1772 and added the elegant second story, made from bricks baked in kilns on the property; Harry Armstrong, Gentleman Farmer, who came to Mill House in 1862 on his honeymoon, brought his southern bride Maddie and stayed for the next 60 years; Dard Hunter, Artisan and Craftsman, in 1909 built a mill in the style of a Devonshire cottage; Ms. Martha Gruening who tried to establish a Libertarian school at Mill House. Martha encouraged tolerance and the rights of all people; The Starin family purchased Mill House in 1947 and preserved its heritage and tradition.  
 
The Gomez descendants took over and added their collection. Tour the house Wednesday thru Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
 
Brotherhood Winery, in Washingtonville, has certainly changed over the years. Although I was first there in 1967 it goes way back to 1839. It's actually America's oldest winery way before California and then owned by a European guy by the name of John Jaques. Prohibition was not a problem because they were producing sacramental wines. Family business until 1987 when Cesar Baeza converted Brotherhood into a premier winery in the Hudson Valley. Cesar, who was from Chile, joined with some Chilean wine makers and now imports the wines to add to his own. Pinto Noir, Riesling and Chardonnay grapes. 
 
Having a limited amount of time to spend there, I went right for the tasting. Unusual one was the dry riesling as most are sweet and yes, they do have the sweet version. Specialty wines were pretty interesting. A few honey wines such as one made in an Ethiopian tradition, a May wine with strawberry juice and woodruff, and a red wine with ginseng root.  
 
To add to the whole winery experience is a new restaurant called Vinum Cafe, which will open some time in April. Upscale French cuisine, tapas bar, and terrace area for groups.  
 
It's off! To the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in Goshen. Can't believe there's no admission charge. You get to see the history of harness racing first with a walk through of "stables". There are a few movies. One is on the history of harness racing and the other is one on motion pictures that feature harness racing. Remember Lucy trying to haul a horse up the stairs before Ricky sees it? There are a whole bunch of hands on things to explore. You can judge a race or even call the race via a script. After you record it, the race plays back with your voice. How about taking your picture while you sit on a the cab? Another movie! This one is a simulator. Wind will blow while you sit in your seat and experience what it's like to be in a race...and it's in 3-D no less. Watch out for those horse shoes begin flung towards you!  
 
As for the Hall of Fame portion, not only is there a long history of participants but also the hall of famers are displayed with a small statue of themselves.  
 
Oh yeah. There are two walls of Curier & Ives prints as harness racing was important to them. You can get posters in the gift shop. The whole thing is great for both kids and adults. 
 
But that's not all! The track is right outside. Harness racing during June on Saturdays. Otherwise you can watch some "practicing" as they work out.
 

There are some tasty places to dine in New York's Orange County. Tiring out from touring and eating, you'll also want to rest your mind and feet.   Body Having written about there "hot spots" in New York's Orange County, I thought you might be interested in where to dine as well as where to rest your mind and feet. 
 

I had dinner at the Canterbury Brook Inn located in Cornwell. Hans Baurmann is the chef/owner with a Swiss style about the menu. Started off with the Melange Nicoise: fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers, shrimp, artichokes, smoked salmon and shellfish. Appetizer? It was a whole entree's worth of delicious edibles. Entrée of Crisp Roasted Long Island Duckling a L´Orange. Half a duck, and not a little one, either. Had to have the Creme Brulee for dessert, just for the laugh of it that relates to a story in my book. Odd that the whole thing was warm. I'm used to the basic part of it being cold and the top sugar, crunchy...so I didn't really love this one.  

Esther and I checked into the Cromwell Manor Inn, located in Cornwall. Didn't meet Jack the owner, but did meet Pamela Rini, who was running the place. She is usually around just to cook and serve breakfast. I stayed on the first floor in the room called The Wellington. 
 
The inn has a living room area with a fireplace, television and piano. I tinkled. Breakfast room is adorable and gives a view of the gardens. In case you don't bring your own computer, there is a room with a few to log into for internet use. No speakers, so wouldn't have been able to do my radio show there. 
Pamela is both a baker and singer. Got her CD called Over The Line: World of Pain. I put up a song on my radio show and recently interviewed her. Looks like they are considering calling inn a B&BS…Bed and Breakfast and Song. 
 
Breakfast: Parfait of fresh fruit with Devonshire Cream, followed by French Toast with a bourbon sauce and banana slices. Pamela believes in starting off with a dessert so that you have room for it. Website for Cromwell Manor Inn is . 
 
I was later given a sample of her cupcakes. She certainly prides herself in the decoration. One had shark fin on top and read, "Fins Up". Another had "Whirl With Merle". Will do a tasting on my radio show. Website for her cakes is
www.ladycakes.com
 
There's Newburgh at the Waterfront and "downtown". It looks as if the downtown area around Liberty Street is a bit depressed. "All The Food That's Fit To Eat" is the insignia of a restaurant called The Wherehouse (845-561-7240). Front room is very "bar-ish" with un-fancy tables.I understand that this place has about 100 different beers including one line called He-brew. Lots of different sodas as well. There is a back room for events for singing and such. Of course, what's really important is the food. 
 
Down home cooking and the owner wants it done from scratch. Passed up the starters, although I might have gone for the Wherehouse Wings - one pound of plump chicken wings, steamed to keep them tender, then fried golden brown. The soup of the day was Broccoli Florentine. Loads of bbq items to choose from, but I was most curious about their Kobe Beef Burgers. The Yokozuna - half pound burger with hand cut fries, sauteed onions, mushrooms, cheese and bacon. Rather than eating the cut fries (which looked more like soggy potato chips) I opted for sweet potato fries and not the frozen kind. Yes, they make their own. It looks as though Esther enjoyed the fries as well. She later posed under the heat lamps of the kitchen…to be funny.
 
We went to Torches Restaurant for dinner. It's one of the many restaurants located on the Waterfront area of Newburgh, NY. Although they were part of Restaurant Week, I decided to order off their regular menu. Began with a Fleur du Cap Chardonnay from South Africa. I had a Caesar Salad followed by Strip And Shore: Charbroiled NY Strip, grilled jumbo shrimp, cheddar smashed baked potatoes and veggies. Great dressing on the Caesar Salad. Steak served just as I requested and everything else was delicious. Locally made Ice Cream for dessert. I also went into the kitchen to video a Fire-y shrimp dish. Loved the fish in the tank. 
 
"Our menu is produced using local Hudson Valley Products: Our chicken is supplied by Murray´s Farm. Our dairy products are supplied by Hudson Valley Fresh. Our Ice Cream is supplied by Jane´s. Our cheese is supplied by Old Chatham Sheepherding Company and Hawthorne Valley Farm. Our tortillas are supplied by Maizteca Foods."  
 
The old Bear Mountain Inn is undergoing lots of changes. Had a preview tour so didn't take photos. I will return when it's somewhat completed supposedly in a few months. I did stay at the Overlook Lodge, which is part of their property. Still raining so didn't get much outdoor shots. Michael Morris is the General Manager, who gave the preview tour. 
 
Bear Mountain Inn has gone "Green" and with that I was able to wake up the next morning and not have that stuffy nose that I normally get from air conditioners. Especially ones that have old filters. Fresh air via the lake is pumped in.

Plan Your Trip

For further information on Orange County visit www.orangetourism.org

Visit the NYC Tourism at http://www.nycvisit.com to learn about attractions and destinations to explore during your visit.


About The Author

Join Merle Exit, comedienne, journalist and radio personality, on her "journey of destinations" on www.merleswhirls.com where you'll find links to her blog site and radio show.

Merle's Whirls

Learn More About Merle Exit, and View Her Current Features

Skip To End Credits

"Explore America's Backyard, where the miles are measured by memorable moments shared with family and friends"


Return To Top Of Page

© Copyright USA Travel Magazine. * All Rights Reserved. 

Travel Related News and Releases May Be Sent To USA Travel Magazine via Email at usatravelmagazine.editor@gmail.com or PO Box 975, Mooresville, IN 46158.

Disclaimer: Opinions of Journalists and Guest Contributors are not necessary the opinion of USA Travel Magazine.